New cases of West Nile confirmed
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
PRESIDIO COUNTY – Two new cases of the West Nile virus have been confirmed in patients in the Marfa area of Presidio County.
“We’ve tested four people and we had three positives,” Physician Assistant and Marfa Country Clinic Director Don Culbertson said Wednesday afternoon. One case was confirmed last week.
“We’ve heard of two other community members with similar symptoms but they didn’t come to our clinic,” he said.
Culbertson believes the three patients with West Nile contracted the virus locally in early August, with symptoms beginning to show in late August and early September.
The patients with confirmed West Nile include a female under 10 years old, a male in his 40s, and a female in her 60s.
“Everyone was treated supportively, like a flu,” said Culbertson. Since bacteria do not cause West Nile, antibiotics aren’t used to treat the virus. “Time heals,” Culbertson said.
Dr. Paul Ou, Chief Medical Officer at Presidio County Health Services, said that his clinics haven’t treated patients with the virus.
He did have some advice for the public, though. “Prevention is the big issue,” Ou said, suggesting residents consider eliminating freestanding water, unclogging rain gutters, and fixing broken screen doors and windows to reduce contact with mosquitoes that could be carrying the virus.
Ou also spoke to the importance of keeping our immune systems strong.
“Simple things for kids is to lecture them a bit more” about healthy lifestyles, he said. “Sugars are a big perpetrator against immune systems.” Ou added that getting ample sleep and drinking lots of water will help strengthen immune systems as well as getting plenty of vitamin D, preferably from sunlight rather than supplements. “It’s when we’re healthy and strong that is the best defense.”
Ou also suggested using repellants to ward off mosquitoes, and added that there are plenty of natural repellants such as lemon and eucalyptus oils. “There are alternatives out there,” Ou said referring to DEET repellants which some people prefer not to use.
Culbertson said he hopes he’s seen the last of the West Nile virus this year as weather conditions less conducive to mosquito breeding now is occurring. “The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler.”
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